Kathie Lee Gifford has issued a blistering condemnation of both “cancel culture” and today’s money-driven church, urging the Body of Christ to remember that the way of Jesus is one of kindness, humility and empathy.
In an interview with The Christian Post, the four-time Emmy Award-winning entertainer lamented the fact that today’s society abides by the mantra, “If you don’t believe in what I say and you don’t agree with my opinion, then I’m just going to cancel you as if you’ve never existed.”
“When have we ever lived in life [like] this, except for maybe during McCarthyism where we just called somebody as communist and wrote them off like they never existed? I don’t know it in my time on this planet,” Gifford emphasized.
What the world is missing, the former “Today” co-host stressed, is “respectful dialogue” and “agreeing to disagree about things” — but then “realizing that what connects us is our humanity.”
“Coming from my own position of faith, I believe we were all created in the image of God. And whether you look like me, or you look very, very different, we are still God’s children and created in His image,” the 68-year-old bestselling author said.
But cancel culture isn’t just prevalent in secular culture; it rears its ugly head in the Church, too, Gifford said.
‘They will be the first to cancel you’
Having worked in the entertainment industry for decades, the multi-hyphenate said she’s no stranger to such criticism.
“We fear being canceled by our own, which is Christendom. But they’ll cancel you, too, if they’re not truly walking with God, walking in the light, walking in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,” she said.
“They will be the first to cancel you. … That’s what I’ve experienced for 55 years in this business called ‘show’ that I’ve been in. But God does not separate the secular from the spiritual. It’s His world; He created all of it, and He’s called us to be in the world but not of it.”
When facing unfair criticism, Gifford said she refuses to give hurtful words power.
“I just pray that God will continue to give me the boldness that He has given me since He began me on this journey,” she told CP. “He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Trends change. Political parties change. The weather changes. Everything changes in the world, but there is One who never changes. And Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.”
An author of over 25 books, Gifford has consistently used her platform to share her faith with others. Her latest book, The Jesus I Know: Honest Conversations and Diverse Opinions about Who He is, is no exception.
In it, the artist documents her journey of exploring faith cultures around the globe, sharing conversations she’s had with celebrities, entertaining personalities, religious scholars and others — all about the person of Jesus.
When approached with the idea of writing a book based on her conversations about the Son of God, Gifford was initially hesitant.
“I said I’d have to pray about it,” she recalled. “I was kind of cynical about it because there has to be tone and context. It’s a dialogue between two people, and you can’t hear them or see their facial expressions. I’m used to television as a medium, so I wasn’t even sure it would work.”
But the reaction she’s gotten from readers, she said, has already been “extraordinary.”
“It’s capturing people’s imaginations,” she contends.
The book includes 25 conversations about Jesus, His role throughout history and His presence in their lives today. Among conversations included in the book are discussions with journalist Megyn Kelly, actress Kristin Chenoweth and musician Brian Welch.
Every individual she spoke to, she said, was intentionally very different from her.
“I prayed about it. I said, ‘Lord, who do you want me to talk to?’ And He led me to every one of these people,” she said. “What I hope from this book is that after reading, people will go, ‘Lord, where am I guilty of never leaving my pew in my church, never getting out of my comfort zone, being afraid to talk to people that don’t look like me or believe like me.’”
She said, “that’s the very thing God wants us to do.”
“Jesus says, ‘Go where the world tells you you should never go’ because that’s exactly where He wants us to go,” she maintained.
The former “Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee” star said she sees her calling as sharing the Gospel “at all times,” using words that are seasoned with “kindness and truth.”
“I want to tell the fallen world about a Jesus who loves them. … In my experience, people already feel judged; they already feel condemned. We know something’s missing. If we could just spend our lives as followers of Jesus helping fill that void for them, what a world this would become.”
‘Cookie-cutter our faith’
Reflecting on the example of the early Christians, the filmmaker, actress, playwright and singer lamented the lack of unity in the Western Church.
She said that in persecuted countries, believers are grateful just to be able to worship together.
“I think what’s wrong with the Western Church, in general, is that we try to cookie-cutter our faith. We, unfortunately, judge one another; how we look, how we pray, how we worship, what church we go to, or what translation of the Bible we read. I find that all repulsive. I think God is deeply grieved by it because He was the great unifier.”
“He’s called us to be salt and light, the fragrance of Him,” she continued. “We are called to love one another as He is loved us and to be His feet and His hands and His heart in a world that desperately needs Him.”
The modern Church, she asserted, “has got to get back to the original stuff.”
“We place all the emphasis on the wrong stuff. We’ve got to get back from trying to just build megachurches. It’s not about megachurches. It’s about mega souls. God doesn’t need money. He owns everything. He needs our hearts changed, redeemed and dedicated to His story of grace. That’s what changes the world one day at a time. It’s not the almighty dollar.”
The early Christians didn’t have a church building, Gifford said.
“They were already facing oppression from the Roman Empire, yet they rose up and started proclaiming Jesus,” she detailed. “They gathered together wherever they could. The more persecution they went through, the more they had to hide to worship. But that’s also what God used to spread the Gospel. ... The more they were persecuted, the more they left Jerusalem and took the message elsewhere.”
“The Church,” she stressed, “is not a building. It’s a body of believers. It’s a movement, a movement of the Holy Spirit that will never end. And we’re blessed by His grace to be a part of it.”
When Jesus told His followers, “Pick up your cross and follow Me,” Gifford believes He meant, “Take my love to people who do not know yet that I love them” — the “unsaved, the unclean, the unwashed, the unlovable.”
Gifford prays the next generation of believers will have the boldness to stand firm on the Gospel. A deep understanding of biblical history, Scripture and the plight of the Early Christians, she said, is crucial to the health of the future Body of Christ.
“When we take our eyes off of Jesus, we will drown in unbelief,” she said. “And that’s the challenge we have as believers. Don’t let the world define you; don’t let what the world says about you cloud and clutter what the Holy Spirit says to your heart, which is: ‘You are created in the image of God. You are precious. You were once stained in sin but now wrapped in a robe of my righteousness. Nothing can take you from my hand. Nothing can divide us.’”
“When we start quoting those kinds of Scriptures, when we start filling our life with that truth. No lie can invade it. No weapon that is manufactured and formed against us will ever prevail,” Gifford added.
She encourages believers to learn Scripture from the original sources — “the Hebrew and Greek” — and “put it in your heart and apply it to your everyday life.”
“And all of a sudden, you’re on fire, and nothing can stop you because we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us,” she concluded.
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org